Fortune’s Fool – released 2012

Harmen Vanhoorne is the blueprint of the modern 21st century cornet soloist made flesh and blood; the next generation protean performer in excelsis.

Iwan Fox, Review of ‘Fortune’s Fool’ on

Heralding a new era of cornet playing’, so said Roger Webster. I can only agree with him. This CD is a must have for all the cornet players willing to play and listen to new and young compositions.

Review of ‘Fortune’s Fool’ on

On 1st September 2012, Harmen released his first solo-cd entitled “Fortune’s Fool”

What makes it special is the fact that Harmen recorded almost exclusively brand-new music. Most of the pieces where written for him by young and talented composers and display a new style of cornet-playing. He explores different types of music, though none of it can really be called “classic” in the strict sense of the word.

Program notes for each piece of Fortune’s Fool

  • Off the Scale by Tom Davoren is a short but explosive exploration in tension and release. The solo line itself is constantly at odds with these two perspectives. It balances a set of angular, chromatic and arpeggiated riff figures with rhythmically and harmonically unstable accompaniments and a constantly expanding, flowing and understated lyrical theme.


  • Peter Meechan’s Manchester Concertino has three movements. The first, Fanfare, explores the main musical idea behind the piece, the interval of a minor third. A loud fanfare gives way to a cadenza over a timpani roll, before the opening fanfare is reprise. The second movement, Dream, is slow and lilting, almost as if heard through a summer haze. The final movement is simply entitled, Finale. New material is fused with the fanfare from the opening movement, leading to a climatic finish.


  • Apex was commissioned from Peter Meechan by the conductor of Sellers International Youth Band, Mark Bousie, and its patron, David Armitage, for a performance at the Action Research Youth Brass Entertainment Festival of Great Britain in 2007. This involved a stage magician who, during the course of the piece, levitated the soloist! The piece takes its title from the literal meaning of the word ‘apex’ – the highest point.


  • Nigel Clarke’s Premonitions consists of three prophetic fanfares reflecting the atmosphere and direction in which the modern world is travelling. The work is cyclic in form and exploits many of the cornet’s best characteristics and is virtuoso in style.


  • Mysteries of the Horizon was also written by Nigel Clarke and is dedicated to Harmen Vanhoorne. The composer writes: ‘The subject material for my concerto consists of surrealist paintings by the Belgian artist, René Magritte (1898-1967). The movements are named after four of his paintings, etitled respectively: The Menaced Assassin, The Dominion of Light, The Flavour of Lights and The Discovery of Fire. As part of my research, I visited the Magritte Museum in Brussels to absorb myself in his work. Mysteries of the Horizon is not programmatic, but I have tried to colour each movement with the atmosphere of each Magritte painting. The work is unusual in that there are four movements and not the standard three. The second movement acts as a light relief between the first and third movements. The concerto gives much opportunity to the soloist to demonstrate different aspects of the instrument. I would like to thank HarmenVanhoorne for his help and enthusiasm in writing this concerto.’


  • Stan Nieuwenhuis composed The Dark Days in response to a commission from Harmen Vanhoorne. Harmen was looking for a provocative, new solo piece and Stan Nieuwenhuis responded in an innovative way by integrating effects pedals, operated by the soloist himself, into the piece. By creating short loops recorded live, the soloist accompanies himself, creating percussive sounds and bass lines with an effect pedal that transposes his playing downwards. The Dark Days consists of three parts. The first opens powerfully, but soon the atmosphere becomes more dreamy, featuring wide melody subjected to delay effects. The second part of the piece is in blues-style, where the soloist creates his own percussion using a ‘beatbox’ technique. At length, there is a guitar-like accompaniment which the soloist answers as if improvising. The third section is the most energetic and features the soloist using the ‘wah-wah’ pedal.


  • William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, was the inspiration for Stan Nieuwenhuis’s Fortune’s Fool. The piece is divided into two parts, the first symbolizing Romeo’s difficult quest for an impossible relationship and the second, his emotions. The piece begins with rather slow introduction representing for Romeo’s feelings of hopelessly in love, expressed by a broad melody with wide intervals.The second part, symbolising Romeo’s turbulent emotions, is fast and powerful with an easily-recognised basic motive. The dark atmosphere of the latter half of the story is in evidence here and Romeo, on an emotional rollercoaster, is ‘Fortune’s Fool’ himself. The finale of the work features a cadenza, very challenging from a technical point of view, which represents, for the last time, Romeo’s sadness.


  • Fall From Grace was inspired by the demise of Muammar Gadaffi. Stan Nieuwenhuis was inspired by the extraordinary statements by Gadaffi and his son, Saif Al-Islam, when they lost control of Lybia. The composition depicts the sudden downfall, following the blind arrogance, of the Gadaffi regime. The constant feeling of menace in the accompaniment, the restrained, long, practically structureless melodies, the short passages of chaos, the inexorable pounding of the bass drum, the raw sounds and the technically difficult writing all symbolise the different aspects of the war in its gruesome reality. The composer’s decision to use recordings of Gadaffi and his son to the exclusion of other voices are in no way intended as propaganda for the Gadaffi regime, but rather a desire to focus on the Gadaffi family’s alienation from the world, their loneliness and finally their demise.

Reviews of Fortune’s Fool

>> Review of Fortune’s Fool on
>> Review of Fortune’s Fool on British Bandsman (PDF)
>> Review of Fortune’s Fool on Brassinfo (PDF)


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